Verizon Wireless Price Increase Shocker: A $12 Monthly Bump On Shared Data Plans—The Telecom That Reported $22 Billion In 2021 Profits Says Its An ‘Economic Adjustment’ To Keep Up With ‘Rising Operational Costs’

Many Verizon Wireless customers have been infuriated after receiving notification from the telecom that their monthly bill for data will go up as much as $12 due to “rising operational costs.” 

Of course, price increases are part of the telecom business shell game, but they typically heat the proverbial waters around the ol‘ lobster by marginal increments — such as the $1.35 “economic adjustment” fee increase applied by Verizon this month to its postpaid customers for “administrative cost” increases. 

But consumers will definitely feel 12 bucks.

Verizon’s move follows a very similar price bump announced earlier this month by AT&T — single-line-of-service customers got a $6-a-month increase, while AT&T shared data customers saw a monthly surge of $12.

Verizon said its increase will take effect “no sooner” than August 2.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg raised the possibility of such a price bump during his company’s first-quarter earnings report, suggesting something simply had to be done to keep up with inflationary pressure. (He didn’t mention any adjustments to his own executive compensation, which exceeded $20 million last year.)

Thanks, Obama?

Blaming the current administration for inflation has been a go-to messaging point for far-right media outlets as they propagandize for the November midterm elections. And that agenda seems to be catching on, based on President Joe Biden’s currently low approval ratings. But increasingly, it appears that corporate greed might be a principal driver for the current upward price pressure we’re all experiencing.

study by the Economic Policy Institute published in April found that more than half of the overall increase in consumer pricing can be attributed to initiatives intended to drive “fatter corporate profits.”

Source: NextTV

Your Earthquake Kit Should Include Cash. But How Much?

Dear Liz: In these uncertain times, I decided I need to have cash on hand. I withdrew $500 in small bills from the bank and put it in a fireproof pouch. Is there a recommended amount of cash one should have available for emergencies?

Answer: The appropriate amount depends on how much you spend and how paranoid you are.

Many financial planners recommend storing a few hundred dollars somewhere safe in your home in case a widespread electrical outage — after an earthquake, for instance — affects ATMs and point-of-sale devices. The idea is that you’ll want enough cash to cover spending for a few days until the power comes back on. Smaller denominations are better than larger ones because you may have trouble finding anyone to give change for $50 or $100 bills.

Emergency preparedness sites tend to recommend storing even larger amounts — $1,000 to $3,000, or whatever you would need — in case access to ATMs and credit cards was affected for a few weeks.

Obviously, storing cash has its perils. The money could be lost, stolen or destroyed in a disaster. You’ll have to weigh those risks against the possibility of needing the cash, and make your own call.

Dear Liz: You mentioned in a recent column that people should check estate plans created before 2010 because they might contain bypass trusts that are no longer needed. The classic AB Trust, although not necessary now for the estate tax exemption for most people, still can be useful if one spouse wants to ensure her half of the estate goes as she desires if she is the first to die.

Answer: Possibly, but people should make the decision proactively by having their estate plan reviewed and discussing their options with an experienced attorney, since these trusts have some significant disadvantages.

Bypass, or AB, trusts were a routine part of estate planning even for middle-income couples when the estate tax exemption limit was just $675,000. When the first spouse died, a portion of the couple’s assets went into an irrevocable trust that would avoid estate taxes when the surviving spouse died. Because the trust was irrevocable, the surviving spouse couldn’t change its terms and had limited access to the assets.

Also, assets in the irrevocable trust don’t get a step up in tax basis when the survivor dies. That means the ultimate beneficiaries could wind up paying higher capital gains rates when they sell the assets. When the estate tax exemption limit was low, couples were gambling that the estate tax savings would outweigh the future capital gains cost.

Today, far fewer families have to worry about estate taxes. The exemption limit for 2022 is over $12 million per person and over $24 million per couple. Even after the current limit sunsets in 2025, individuals would be able to exempt over $6 million and couples over $12 million from estate taxes. Estate tax exemptions are also now “portable,” which accomplishes much of what the AB trust was designed to do in ensuring the exemption of the first to die wasn’t “wasted.” Now the amount of the exemption limit that isn’t used by the first spouse to die can be transferred to the survivor’s estate.

Bypass trusts are still routinely used for wealthier people and those who live in states with low estate tax exemption limits, but for many people this estate planning tool has outlived its usefulness.

Dear Liz: You recently stated Social Security numbers were never intended to be used as a universal identifier. I’ve found that every place asking for my number has other means of identification and will ask for my mother’s maiden name or my place of birth when I tell them I don’t use my Social Security number for identification purposes. This also works for financial institutions that have a legitimate claim for having it.

Answer: To clarify, you probably had to disclose your Social Security number when you applied for accounts at your financial institutions. You also typically need to disclose it when you apply for credit, employment or government benefits.

But you don’t necessarily have to cough it up on demand to verify your identity or to do business with the many, many other companies and organizations that ask you for it without good reason to do so.

Source: LA Times

Brooklyn Nets’ Owner Joe Tsai Pledges $50 Million to Create ‘Economic Mobility’ in Brooklyn’s Black Community

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The Brooklyn Nets, led by owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, are pledging $50 million over 10 years to establish and support they hope will lead to economic mobility in the Black community.

The couple will lead a “five-point plan,” which will include continued support for its players pushing for social and economic equality and address wage gaps in communities of color, starting in Brooklyn. The plan will also address diversity within the Nets organization and the National Basketball Association league office.

“After George Floyd’s death, we felt like we needed to take a firm stand on racial injustice,” Clara Wu Tsai said in an interview with CNBC on Monday. “I wanted to state our beliefs on this issue — that racism is pervasive and needs to be addressed, and I wanted to lay out core principles that clarified our purpose as an organization.”

Source: CNBC